One step closer to “normalcy”


Caroline Ohlandt, co-news editor

As the sun set, students in dresses and suits flooded the West Lot with unmatched adrenaline, feeling the excitement in the air. On Sept. 25, students gathered at South’s Homecoming dance for the first time in almost two years, unmasked and united again, Mark Maranto, assistant principal of student activities, said.

Since last year’s Homecoming dance was cancelled and most students were e-learning, Maranto expressed that his primary intention was making sure this year’s Homecoming was as exciting as previous years.

“The goal was to do as much as we [could] to bring us as close to ‘normal’ as possible,” Maranto said. “We [wanted] to make [Homecoming] as fun and memorable as [we could].”

Although South was able to provide an in-person and unmasked Homecoming experience, Maranto explained that Homecoming had much more to offer this year. He said that a positive aspect revived from last year’s Homecoming substitute, Fall Fest, was a movie night for students during Homecoming week.

“[Movie nights were] something that happened last year that [were] really fun,” Maranto said. “It was an adaptation that might become a tradition.”

Another significant change to previous years was an entirely outdoor setting for the dance, Interim Principal Dr. Rosanne Williamson said. She explained that during her first month in her current role, she faced the challenge of providing an unrestricted Homecoming while maintaining a safe environment for all attendees, and an outdoor dance was the safest and most enjoyable solution so students had room to spread out throughout the night.

“The biggest change for us from the [past] was holding the dance outdoors, which helped to mitigate Covid-19,” Williamson said. “It also allows for a different kind of experience with food trucks on-site and a large DJ stage area.”

Williamson appreciates the weeks of preparation before Homecoming by staff and students, and applauds the student morale and involvement that has contributed to the event.

“I have worked in four different high schools and definitely see a lot of school spirit here at South,” Williamson said. “I think the energy of being back in school in-person has added to the excitement of Homecoming.”

A supporter of school spirit, junior Sara Khan, explained that the weeks of anticipation and growing school camaraderie before Homecoming united the school after being apart for so long.

“A huge part of Homecoming is trying to amp up school spirit, [which] brings the school together as one,” Khan said. “Last year we were really divided and we were by ourselves, but now that we’re in-person we can connect.”

As the dance commenced and she joined the crowd surrounding the stage, Khan realized how much she missed human connection. She expressed that after looking forward to Homecoming for so long, the event did not disappoint.

“It was a surreal moment to see everyone together,” Khan said.

One of the students who helped lead the planning of Homecoming was senior Tomoki Imura, student body president, who organized numerous Homecoming events throughout the week in order to engage students.

“I think this year’s Homecoming was more inclusive,” Imura said. “Even if a student didn’t want to go to [the] dance, they can still participate in movie nights and float construction. Everyone enjoys different things, and I think we were able to accommodate everyone’s needs.”

Imura hopes that Homecoming was an opportunity for students to reunite with their peers outside of the classroom.

“Homecoming [was] a great way to start [the] year,” Imura said. “Seeing people together after over a year of quarantine was one of the best [parts] about this year’s Homecoming.”

Imura emphasized that the student council looks forward to more events throughout this year, and hopes to continue to make up for lost time.

“Student council as a whole [hopes] that Homecoming is just one of many exciting events to come this school year,” Imura said.

Echoing this sentiment, Maranto recognized that seeing the student body unite once more made Homecoming that much more special.

“The last 18 months have been a really isolating time for people,” Maranto said. “It’s time for us to be together and see one another. [Homecoming was] another step closer to [bringing]  people together, safely.”